Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Snow hack!

Yesterday had reasonable snow hack weather, so I texted my working students for today and suggested if they were interested in such an adventure, they should bring warm clothes.

Both seemed pretty excited about that idea -- it did occur to me it's possible they've never *been* on a snow hack before.  One of those things that when you don't have your own horse you may or may not ever get to do...   So today had *perfect* weather for a snow hack.  Not too cold, brilliantly sunny, no wind, and light, fluffy snow.

Alright, but first I need to get there.  On my way to school a client's horse and somebody else's car is stuck sideways in the unplowed road.  So myself and another random person helped get them going and then I was on my way again.  About 10 mins late, but I had an easy day lined up so figured if things got bumped by 10 mins it wasn't tragic.  Text first people that I'm running late and on my way again.  All good -- until I end up getting stuck in their driveway *sigh*  I didn't think that was *quite* how karma was supposed to work!  >;-P    Ah well -- while I was riding one of the owners freed my car :)  So all good!

Get to the barn, pretty bummed that I have yet again forgotten my camera *sigh*  Also pretty bummed that it's the perfect day for a snow hack, and my pony's not broke.  Some day she's going to be a lot of fun, but we're not really there yet.  But ok, arrange so that the girls will come into the ring and w/u as I'm finishing with Lexi so she can get used to being in the ring with other horses.  Lex was pretty lazy today -- willing enough, but not nearly as interested in life as she usually is.   Rode with both Bella and Athena in the ring and she really didn't care.  Even had her sit while the others cantered around and she was cool with that too.  Way better than the last time we tried that game *g*

So I decide I'll lead Lexi while the girls hack.  In the back of my head was the idea that if all was going well, I'd let the girls gallop -- and I'd need a third horse for that so I could send one out and the one behind would have a buddy, so having Lexi along would be a good thing.  And of course also good for her to get out.  And of *course* I'm just going to lead her...  Absolutely not going to ride.  Putting on my crash vest and helmet...?  Ummmm merely for warmth.  Yeah, that's it!

And the other method to my madness -- a snow hack would be great for Sasha!  Poor Sash -- while this week's been wonderfully relaxing for me with no lessons in the evenings, she's been going stir crazy!  hahaha she's used to running full tilt around the barn for at *least* 12h/day -- usually more.   So sitting at home every evening is kinda driving her insane.  So I thought a good snow hack, complete with frisbee, would help her a little :)

Victoria showed up just as we were heading out, so she tacked up and came out to join us.  So four horses, three riders, one walker and one puppy all went out for a snow hack.  Umm can I just mention that walking in snow is a *lot* of work!  hahaha omg.  I thought I was fit, but wow am I going to be sore tomorrow.  We went all the way around all the fields (well, Lexi and I short-cutted a little!) and played frisbee with Sasha most of the way.  All good.  Then we went to the galloping field :)  Woohoo!  Victoria's horse was a little hot, so she just did one lap at the trot and then hung out with Lexi (who was quite happily digging through the snow to munch the hay).  Brena and Rebecca both got to do a couple laps at trot and canter and then a gallop run :)  I was soooo jealous!  hahaha I LOVE galloping through the snow.  Or, you know, just galloping :)  But especially galloping in the snow.   And black horses (well one horse and one pony) galloping on white snow makes quite the picture.

So we head back before the ponies get to have *too* much fun >;-P  Since I can count on one hand the number of times those girls have galloped - combined!  :)   So I thought I'd better call it before things got exciting.  But I still *really* wanted to hack.  And Lexi was being sooooo good.  Even with Sasha bounding in and out of the trees.  So when we got back to the mounting rock I hopped on her and we went out again :)   Just a short hack this time -- down the tree-line and part way through one of the fields.  But still, I was so happy :)  She was super-good!  I realized pretty quickly that I had no breaks and little steering (thinking I would when I don't in the ring is one of those handy delusions I'm so good at :) so I tried very hard to arrange it so she stayed in the middle of the pack *g*   So we didn't go far, but we did a little loop and she was awesome!  Woohoo!

And now, thanks to Rebecca, I'm officially on vacation!  Pretty stoked about that.  Started out with a wonderful bubble bath complete with candles and a new book to read.  And now I'm going to sit myself in front of either a movie or my book until sometime way past my bedtime when I am NOT going to set an alarm!  hahahah can we say "it's the little things in life"?  :)

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. - Alice in Wonderland

Ok so I've been running adult camp for the last few days, which was quite an adventure.  hahaha a seriously intense three-day clinic.  In some ways way more challenging than "normal" camp and in some ways way more fun!  I'd say those two things balance, especially as I generally like that kind of challenge :)   However, there are now FOUR different posts (three of mine and one of Amy's) on the GRS blog about adult camp, so you can go read those if you're interested, and I'll move on.

Now, the one plus side of camp, is me having to teach all day justifies me paying somebody *else* to do chores *g*   Yeah camp!  Even better since Rebecca agreed to do it and she's pretty much a superstar, meaning I *really* don't have to do chores when she's there.  Don't have to supervise or help or take care of the difficult pieces - if she says she'll do it, I can relax and know it'll all be done and done right and I can go do the job I *really* want to be doing.  So I rode first thing in the am and then taught all day and then went home.  Perfect.

I was really looking forward to sleeping in today -- first time in a long time it's been an option. But my Sat am person backed out, so I had to go to the barn. *sigh*  Ah well - I DO get to sleep in on Monday since Rebecca is giving me a *whole* day off for Christmas :)   Woohoo!!!!

I have the coolest puppy ever!
Anyways - back to my story, sleeping in got vetoed.  So I went to the barn and did all the usual chores.  Then had a huge snowball fight with Sasha - hahaha omg so much fun.  But since I failed to dress appropriately, I ended up soaking wet.  Yeah for tons of clothes at the barn -- both mine and the lost and found *g*  So back to work and I start doing stalls.  And am on speed - like super-fast.  hmmmm random.  Oh yeah, haven't done stalls since Tuesday!  hahaha amazing what happens when you give your muscles a couple days off every once in a while.

So I did as little as possible and went home.  Right.  That's the way the story *should* go.  But you're not new here...   No, I decided it was time to gut the barn and start over...  hahaha I'm just not good at taking it easy.  The only part I wasn't happy with is I'd already mucked two stalls when I decided that, but they were the two worst ones, so I went back and gutted them anyways.  Not as though there weren't a dozen *other* things I could've been doing at the barn (ummmm riding my pony?) but you know how it is when you decide something *has* to be done.  Now, to do the same thing to my home...  hmmmm maybe Monday.  The list for Monday is rapidly getting a lot longer than Monday actually is.  Although I'm seriously considering that the first thing I'll actually do on Monday is tear up the list!  Might be the only way I actually take a day off.  hahaha and one of these days I'm actually going to get to use the massage gift cert that Steph and Paula got me for my bday...  You know, the birthday in July >;-P

And on the "relaxing note" -- when I was a kid I was completely addicted to the "Sweet Valley" books.  Comeon admit it - if you were a girl who read at all, you were hooked on them too!  hahaha closely followed by Saddle Club :)   Babysitter's Club was a distant third...  And I'm sure there were a ton of others, but those are the ones that come to mind first.  Why did they come to mind?  Because when I was in Chapters tonight (yes, that *is* the highlight of my Saturday night...) I found the Sweet Valley twins grew up!  I don't even know how it caught my attention, but in the normal fiction section there's an adult version.  Premise being the girls have grown up and are living adult lives now.  hahaha I didn't end up buying it, but I'll admit I might've read the first chapter standing in the aisle *g*   Might be a guilty kobo purchase at some point in the near future.  Made me smile but also made me feel *old* at the same time!  hahaha ah well.

Lexi's ground work is going well, but I'm having some issues installing forward aids.  Think I need somebody on the ground with a lungewhip who knows what their doing...   Lesson next Friday could be entertaining :)  Friday's a long way away though -- before then I have a full day of teaching tomorrow, day OFF, two horses moving in, moving one horse out, organizing the next semester, finishing the syllabus and plans for our EC theory lessons, and a whole bunch of other odds and ends that need to be done this week.  Yikes!

Anyways - off with me for now.  Night!

Silly pony stories


Wrapping Christmas presents with a puppy dog is an entirely new challenge.  hahaha omg I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long time.  It might've taken several times as long as it should've and the wrapping is of a, shall we say, less than professional quality, but it was highly entertaining *g*

Having a lot of fun with Lexi -- who I'm pretty sure is at least part dog *sigh*  So the first time I discovered this was the day I decided to play with the liverpool.  I wasn't expecting much drama since she's been pretty cool about everything.  I should know better by now.

Lex walks up to it, totally calm and stops.  "I am *NOT* going over that."   Touch it with nose.  Kick it.  All good.  Step over it?   Have you heard recent rumours of ice skating in hell?  No?  Me neither.

She was showing no signs of fear, just plain no.  I was standing on the ground - she's not ready for riding challenges yet.   Tried leading her, just about got kicked in the head for that one.  Tried lunging her, suffice to say that did not work.  Really did not work.  *sigh*

So try a combo of lunging/leading -- ie leading with a lungeline held very short -- just long enough so I can be slightly behind her with lunge whip...   Ummmm yeah.  Pony's fairly athletic *sigh*   That *also* did not work.

So now thinking, these are going to be a part of her life forever.  Can't screw it up now.  Ok back it off a bit - lunge her around it.  Yup, still no fear.  Quite happy to lunge around.  Within a cm of it (legit - I think two of her feet actually went over a corner of it).  Ok fine.

Take pony back in barn and untack her.  But I really didn't want issues with it, so I thought I'd bring her after-ride carrots in the ring and have her free but put them in the liverpool so she'd at least go near it of her own volition.

Uh huh.  She's *really* good about following me when she's loose -- she'll stick right by whatever side I put her on.  Can stop, turn, change direction, etc.  And really, it's an indoor ring.  So I unclip her and she's following me.  All good.  Then she spots the carrot (I don't usually have carrots in the ring).  Wants the carrot.  Following the carrot with 100% attention.  So instead of putting the carrot in the liverpool, I walked it over it.  Pony followed with only the very slightest hesitation.  2 feet actually stepped in it.  Pretty thoroughly proving my "you're not afraid" theory.   Turn around and carrot leads her the other way over it.  Happy pony.  Then go across it lengthwise - so at some point she actually has all four feet in the liverpool (it's only *just* wide enough that that can work).  And she's calmly waiting for her carrot. Omg.

And yet, all that is still very much pony behaviour.  *Smart* pony behaviour, and exceptionally food motivated, but still within the reasonable realm of the equine.  It was later that evening that I met the puppy version.  After I finished teaching (so roughly 12h since our morning activities) I brought her back into the arena.  The plan at this point is just to walk around calmly.  I let her go and instead of sticking with me as she always has, she leaves and goes straight to stand in the liverpool and then looks at me.  The "ok I'm in the liverpool, where are my carrots?" was so very clear.  And very much something Sasha would've done :)

hahaha anyways - she amuses me :)  My coach has informed me he expects to see her in my next ride.   "Ummmm, you realize she's not broke right?"  "You have two weeks."  hahaha sheesh.  So now pony's in boot camp  We walk and trot reasonably well but canter... ummmm not so much.  hahaha ah well.  It'll come.  Hopefully sooner rather than later *g*

So it's Christmas Eve and Norad says Santa's getting near, so I'm off to sleep.  Night!

#FridayFlash 58: A Perfect Day

So I *finally* got a FridayFlash in! My last one was last November! OMG. That's right - I haven't written anything since the move *sigh* But tonight, I manged it :) hahaha totally not my usual style, but hey - I'll take what I can get when it's a once/year occurrence!

As always, comments very welcome.

Enjoy :)

----

The air was warm and quiet. The lake was still and reflected the brilliant blue sky. He took a moment to appreciate the gift nature had provided. It was, he decided, a perfect day for murder.

“I’ve got the beer, you ready?” The greeting broke his contemplation. He schooled his expression to reveal no indication of his darker thoughts while he responded appropriately. It didn’t take long for the two men to load up the little fishing boat. Rods, bait, and the all-important cooler.

“I’m so glad you talked me into this,” Jake commented with a relaxed smile as they shoved off the dock. “It’s been way too long since I’ve had any time off. And it’s perfect fishing weather.”

“You work too hard. Everybody needs to escape once in a while.”

“You should tell my wife that!”

“I’ve tried. She’s not inclined to listen.”

“Yeah she’s a tough one, but she’s increased the business ten-fold and, you have to admit, she’s usually right.”

“So did you tell her where you were going today?” His question was perfectly timed with just the right easy tone.

“That would hardly be a wise decision,” Jake acknowledged. “No, as far as everybody’s concerned I’m in back-to-back client meetings downtown today. That way, if anybody tries to reach me and can’t, they’ll just assume I’m in another meeting. I’m covered for hours.”

“Brilliant,” he said with a smile, knowing Jake would misinterpret it. Everything about his attitude and conversation suggested he was happy to be relaxing with an old friend, but inwardly he was vibrating with excitement over what was to happen and what would come of it. This wouldn’t be his first time; that had been years ago. And there’d been others since. Several. But this would be the first time with somebody he knew. Somebody he used to respect.

He’d planned this one far more carefully than any of the others. He had a solid alibi lined up. Nobody could know they were out together, or even that he’d ever been on this trip. He’d thought through everything. The location was perfect; Jake’s lake was private and deep. Nobody would see. And it would likely be months, if ever, before the body was found. If he was even slightly lucky, Jake’s wife would sell the cottage property shortly after the funeral; after all, it’d been his hobby, not hers. She had never approved.

With location established he needed a method. A gun would echo for miles; hardly good for a subversive act that required a long time for a getaway. A rapid acting poison would be perfect except that Jake always brought the cooler. There was no easy way to change that tradition smoothly. A knife would be too messy and too risky; Jake might get the upper hand. He didn’t like to admit it even to himself, but success was more important than ego. After all, it was a perfect day for murder. It’d be a shame to waste it. And finally he came up with it. Sheer brilliance.

The only question had been whether Jake would tell his wife. The one who had put an end to their fishing trips and gambling excursions and general enjoyment of life. The one who had turned Jake into a boring, law-abiding, workaholic. And of course, the one who took over the books and stopped his handy access to cash. Jake had let her take over his life, but he hadn’t told her who he was meeting. It was indeed, a perfect day for murder.

He briefly considered actually fishing for a while first; it wasn’t likely he’d be out on a lake again anytime soon. But, he realized, success was more likely to be achieved by getting back to town as soon as possible. There was still a slight glimmer of a chance he might actually need an alibi this time, and getting back faster would make it stronger. Especially if he managed to get back before anybody noticed he’d ever left.

He was just about to make his move when he heard a sound in the distance. A sound that shouldn’t be there. A sound distinctly like a motor. “What’s that?” he asked, as though nothing more important that his fishing were being interrupted.

“Oh, I invited the rest of the old gang to come join us. I thought since I don’t get to see you very often any more it’d be great to have the whole group together.” The look Jake gave him was one of an excited child revealing a barely-held secret. He feigned the appropriate enthusiasm while feeling the crushing disappointment of wasted plans. But then he philosophically shrugged it off and settled in to enjoy the fishing.

After all, there would be other days.

An evening escape

Got to go see 007 tonight.  So much fun :)   The fact that it was so much fun tells me it's been *way* too long since I've been anywhere *g*   Oops.   I used to love going to the movies; one of my favourite methods of escapism.  hahaha   HUGE thanks to Superwoman for once again taking care of my real world so I could escape :)

But at the movies I saw a trailer for a Jack Reacher movie -- I quite like most of those books...  Not sure I can handle Tom Cruise as Reacher, but might still be a good excuse to escape one more evening *g*   Or might have to just go reread the book.  Although I made that mistake last night -- opened an old favourite "just for a chapter or two..."   Then suddenly it was 3am.  Somebody want to tell me how that happened?  Sheesh.

An evening of watching somebody else's writing makes me want to go write myself...  It's amazing how much I miss that...  hmmmm well I have an hour or so till I should pretend to go to bed...   Also have about 5h worth of work to do...  We'll see.   GRS blog post first though.  Off to write that one now.

Sound familiar?

My coach: "You have to stop analyzing"

"But it's my job."

"No, it's *my* job.  Your job is to ride.  When you're standing down here, *then* you get to analyze."

hahaha consider myself told.  Came out of me being entirely too picky -- he wanted me to be happy because the horse did remarkably well at something that's been challenging for her, and I was annoyed that some random little detail wasn't quite right.  But it is remarkably freeing to "just" ride *g*  And it lasted about 10 mins till he told me to analyze the last round.  hahaha oh dear.

But mostly I'm posting this for all my students who do this regularly -- now you know, I understand entirely :)     Because I too am guilty of it.  All. The. Time.  But when I tell you you did it well.  You did it well.  For whatever that moment, that horse, that level of training, or that situation -- it was well done.  Maybe next time random detail X will be important, but for right this second, take the "Good" and run with it :)

She who shall not be named shows some more athleticism

So some of you may be aware, I recently acquired a new pony :)   Said pony sadly still lacks a name...  The latest is Mystery/Misty but I'm not sold on that one.  Although I do like the idea of having a Mystery when I have a Sherlock *g*

Anyways - it was a stunning afternoon: 12 deg, sunny and no wind.  *Perfect* hacking weather.   Did I mention pony's not really broke?  hahaha

Ok so I wasn't *quite* that unrealistic, although I definitely considered it for several moments.  But I tried her outside so I know she's *been* outside before :)  And she's been super-quiet since she's been here, so why not ride outside today?

Unbroke, 4yo mare.  Yes I tried her outside -- in a ring she was comfortable in with a buddy.  Sure there'll be no difference at all between that and a new ring she's never seen, alone.  


Right.

You're not new here.

hahaha so I bring her outside and she grows as we step out the door.  Hmmmm.  She's tall and looking at things, but not really being spooky.   I've never worked with a quiet greenbean before, so I'm finding it hard to judge what exactly to expect from her.  For instance - she wasn't spooking at things, but she was so high she was vibrating and halting was *not* going to be an option.   hahaha and since you're always either training or untraining, getting on when she's not going to be able to stand still, is not a fair option for teaching her we always stand at the box.

So I voted for the lunge line.  Now keep in mind - last Sunday what we did only represented a circle in the most vaguest of ways.  But we've been working on it every day and she gets the circle idea now so ok.  Or so I hoped anyways since our dressage ring is not fenced.  hahaha

But it went really well.  Her trot was lovely to watch.  Super animated.  And a good sign for what's to come.  And on the ummmm exciting side of what's to come -- she decided she wanted to canter.  No problem.  Except the transition....  Oh dear.   Massive buck with a twist!  First time she tries that with me on her, I suspect I might get some serious air time *sigh*  Hind legs well up over her head -- basically standing vertical on her front legs.  And then calmly canters away.  O.M.G.  hahaha   Transitions after all ok.  But when we changed direction that first canter that direction had the same dramatic approach.  Yikes!

Fortunately all that excitement tired her out and she was able to stand :)   Took us a few more tries than normal to stand still at the box, but eventually I got to get on and walk around.  Nothing exciting -- never even left the walk.  But I did, technically, ride my pony outside :)   Yeah!  Then cooling out we went for a (in-hand) walk around the pond.  hahaha which resulted in a super-tall pony again *sigh*  Ah well.

And she's getting *much* better about her feet and standing in x-ties.  Woohoo!  And after Athena, I *love* that I can bring her in by herself and there's no melt-down.  hahaha the little things in life :)

Baby pony stories

So it turns out my new pony can jump.  Really jump.  And she chose to display this talent by jumping out of her paddock and into another.  OMG.  hahaha if it weren't for the minor heart attack she caused, I'd be thrilled.

Pony still needs a name.  hahaha she was Rumour first, then Aurora, then Milana -- which is the only one of the group that had a hope of sticking.  Now, for the moment, she's Serena.   But I'm not sure how long that'll last...  We shall see.  I've had tons of good suggestions, but none seem *quite* right.  Or they're perfect but I already know somebody (or another horse) with the same name and can't reuse it!  hahaha it's amazing how many get discarded that way.   Or it's just too common.   This is not a common mare, she can't have a common name *g*

As for under saddle -- we're doing real basics.  She doesn't cross-tie, or stand, or particularly want her bridle put on.  She also gets very concerned when you lead her from the right.  So there's a whole lot of ground work.  Walk/stop, walk/stop.  Stand in cross ties quietly.  Pick up feet (that's a bit of an adventure).  Start the basic concept of lunging.  A couple of the girls stopped in to watch the first day -- while I love how interested they are, I had to warn them that if things went as planned it'd be exceptionally boring *g*.   And thankfully, things went as planned.  hahaha   Our lunging circle certainly didn't resemble a circle in the traditional sense and our halts were a long way from straight.  But both got better as we went.  Also did a fair bit of stop next to mounting block, stand on block and flap around the pony.  Fun fun fun.  She was pretty kewl about the whole thing.

So that's day one. Nothing brilliant but nothing horrid.  Day two -- I now have access to three out of four feet.  Woohoo.  She bridled herself.  That was pretty sweet - took two tries and on the third she did it all on her own.  Lunging still wasn't perfect, but we had two gaits and transitions between them and our circle was a lot less interpretive :)    Leading from the right is going to take a bit -- she's pretty anxious about that one.  Ditto for standing quietly in cross-ties.  But - best part, she stood really well next to the box and let me mount.  The old-school, traditional, climb-on-box-insert-foot-in-stirrup method.  Sweet.  Wandered off a bit as I got on, but we'll fix that :)   Way better than the moving leap from trial day :) .

So despite the fact that we're doing the slowest and most boring of stuff, I'm still thrilled and I grin every time I see her.  Helps that she's the first calm baby I've ever worked with (and yes, I realize that'll go away as soon as she discovers she's a teenager, but still!).   AND she *likes* people.  hahaha what a concept.  

Now, all I need is for her to decide to stay *in* her paddock, and we'll be set!

What've you been up to? Same ol...

OMG.  So ummm the last couple of weeks have been absolutely insane.   Oh, and I'm typing on 3h sleep...  So be forewarned :)

Let's see...

So go back a week Saturday -- we had our first show at GRS.  Woohoo!  Tons o fun and has its own post on the GRS blog.  hahaha -- but as with any new project, stressful in its own way.   Then it was off to the Royal for *tons* o fun.  Woohoo!  Chelsea, Rowan, DJ, Laura, Kirby, Rebecca and I.  Suffice to say there was a fair amount of silliness happening.  Especially after the sugar high kicked in.

Then Sunday eve I met up with some friends I haven't seen in years.  I was exhausted and not particularly feeling like socializing and then I had So. Much. Fun.  There's always the fear when meeting up with friends who were once very close but you haven't seen in ages that we've all changed too much.  But, apparently some of us never grow up.  hahaha it was a riot.

Tuesday I went to look at a horse.  Killed most of the day (huge thanks to Rebecca for working all day for me!).  It was a really unfortunate creature *sigh*   And completely inappropriate for anything requiring soundness or athleticism.  A *long* drive for no real reason.  But I did at least get another chore accomplished while I was out there :)   Championship ribbons for our shows and a start on year-end awards :)

Wednesday -- the goal was to get the barn done super-fast and then head out to the Royal.  Perfect right?  Yeah, except that on the way to the barn I squished the rabbit.  Ummmm that'd be the big blue mechanical rabbit.  And having never been in any accident of any sort I was a little shaken by this :(   But in the big picture - everybody's fine and damage is all cosmetic.  But definitely put a rather distressing bump in the day's plans.  My wonderful parents bailed me out and Rebecca and I were off to the Royal.  We met up with  Aileen, Emily and Paula.  Fun fun fun.  And lots of yummy food :)   Got interviewed for a Sheridan school project.  hahaha oh dear.

Friday had a lesson that was a bit of a disaster, so my coach came back on Saturday to do the follow up *g*  hahaha ah well.  Got much better and continued to get better all week.


And then the fun stuff...   Now as some of you are aware, I pulled Athena from the school to show her for a season.  And the whole time I said she'd return to the school in the fall.  I realize some of you, having actually met me before, had your doubts :)  Justly so.  But since I actually *need* another PT level packer for the school, and - oh look - I have one available, she is in-fact going back in the school after next week's clinic.  Which means I need something else to ride.  It also means I do not need another schoolie right this second.  Since I sold Apollo and replaced him with Athena, that means I have a shopping budget of exactly what I sold Apollo for.  Which isn't much.

Now I've been keeping my eye open since summer, but only really officially looking since Apollo sold.  I sent my requirements to my "personal shoppers" -- two good friends who know horses and actually enjoy shopping.  The list wasn't easy.  15.2-16.3hh, 3-7 years, sound, good conformation, and exceptionally well bred to jump.  Preferably a mare.  Oh - and for the price of a school pony.   Yeah - it's that last part that makes it interesting.  Which means my options are unbroke or OTTB.  And I'm ok with both of those, so the search began.

They sent me a few options; with the track in the question mark it is right now there are lots of TBs around cheap.  But my coach vetoed all of them on conformation.  Boooo.   So with a bit of trepidation, I posted my shopping list on Facebook.  I figured I'd get a whole lot of creative interpretations of "sound" "good conformation" and "well bred" - but thought, just-in-case, it'd be worth a try.

And then the games really began.  I received several responses that, while appreciated, weren't really what I was looking for.  One maybe but not quite.  Nothing that jumped up and screamed "buy me".   I had planned to go look at some horses on Wednesday, so Rebecca was scheduled to cover for me at the barn that day.  A few of those fell through for a variety of reasons, but the one I really wanted to see was in London and I was all set to go...  When I got a text Wed am -- it sold last night.   Big boo.  But then I sign into FB and there's a message from a friend suggesting I go look at a horse @ her barn.  Horses at her barn aren't usually anywhere near my price range *g*  But some discussion revealed that while this one was out of range, it wasn't so far out as to be unreachable and negotiable as owners were hoping for a quick sale.  The right size, age, and breeding to meet my requirements.  Mostly unbroke - three weeks under saddle :)   Sweet.  So without ever seeing a photo or video (since, let's be honest, I trust her opinion) I arranged to go see her that afternoon (yeah for flexible people!).

Go in and see her.  First thought is, "oh no, she's grey :("   (yes for those who are wondering, the :( definitely does belong in the quotation marks!)   And second thought is "she's stunning".  hahaha yeah, they kinda balance each other out.  If only I thought she'd stay steel grey and melanoma-free forever.  *sigh*  But ok.

So pony (who is, of course, not actually a pony being as the mentioned 16.1hh was fairly accurate) is pretty chilled about being tacked up, led outside, and pilot hops on (ummm literally - jumps on from the ground.  hmmmm) and away they go.  Hacks quietly up to the ring -- with a buddy, but still being very cool about the whole thing given the lack of experience.  W/t/c around.  Hops over a tiny x-rail.  Clears it by an insane amount.  hahaha classic.  Some day she should be able to jump.   So all good, I go to get on...  Except, pony doesn't stand for mounting and has never had somebody actually get on in the traditional way.  Ok - get a leg up.  She's kewl about that.  Sweet.   I've known enough who aren't to appreciate that.  Good start.  Discover a distinct lack of gas, breaks and steering and have a good giggle trying to appear competent.  Hopped over a x-rail a few times and through some cavelletti and by the end was quite interested in her.  Hacked her back alone, her buddy was still working in the ring, and she was civilized about it.  All very good.


Went home, watched the videos -- they didn't look nearly as discombobulated as I'd felt *g*  And she looked good.  There were moments you could start to see what might be one day.  Sent them to my coach and a few friends for opinions and did some research on her bloodlines (and by research, I mean I emailed J and requested information - I have awesome friends :)   So bloodline commentary and google both said all good things.  Video feedback positive.  No answer from my coach who was internet-less that day (ah well, too late for an opinion).

Thursday am, I knew the mare was being taken to another farm to be shown -- and a farm where they have a habit of purchasing interesting projects for resale regardless of whether they're actually shopping.  So I got my offer in early and we discussed back and forth a bit.  Accepted.  Woohoo!  Had the vet out that afternoon and she vetted clean!  Sweet.  Called Kirby and asked if she could cover night check for me after my lesson -- which she did :)   So as soon as I finished teaching, Rebecca and I headed out to get my new pony.   Pulled back into the driveway about midnight.  There was a slight issue getting the trailer open *sigh* through which pony proved she really is reasonably chilled about life :)


And now it's Friday -- coach has seen and approved (good thing since it's a little late now :).  Pony's happily settled with her new pasture buddy.  Watching her float around the field gives me hope for our dressage one day :)  And now it's time to sleep.

Before doing hay tomorrow.

Night!

Woohoo!


Today's the day!  The day BOFF2 is released!  WOOHOO!!!   BOFF? you ask...   That’d be Best of Friday Flash :)  I’m pretty stoked about it.  And very excited that one of my stories has been included!  Woohoo!  It’s especially exciting for me since I haven’t had time to write much fiction recently, so it brings back happy memories.

A friend of mine first invited me to try submitting a story to Friday Flash a couple years ago.  It was the first story I'd written that I let anybody other than my mother read, and was a bit trepidatiously that I posted the link.  But the response from the (then very small) community was incredibly supportive and I quickly came to enjoy contributing and reading the stories others shared.  And while the number of people involved grew rapidly, the small-town, welcoming environment stuck.

After a while, I'm not sure who suggested it first, but at some point Jon (our fearless leader!) decided it'd be a good idea for a Best Of compilation.  Anybody interested was encouraged to submit up to three stories for consideration and after a few rounds, the stories were selected. I was thrilled to be included, although I suspected our community was small enough that the powers that be were trying hard to include anybody who wished to be included :)

However, by the time a second book was being considered, the FF community had grown significantly and a large number of "real" writers were now participating.  A little more intimidating for those like me who write occasionally when we have time but with no plans or expectations to ever make a living from it.  And yet, I discovered very quickly that those professional writers were just as supportive of any effort as everybody else.  And in many cases had good advice to give and always great stories to read.  

And along with the growing community came a company interested in publishing BOFF2.  Wow.  So this time I was a little more nervous about submitting my story -- only one submission was allowed (how do I know which one to submit?) and I suspected (although I certainly don't know for sure) that the competition would be a little more fierce. 

Time crawled slowly, as it will when you're waiting for anything, but eventually I got the news that my story had been accepted for inclusion into BOFF2!  Woohoo!  And today is the day the wait comes to its conclusion.  Because BOFF2 is being released :)   

BOFF2 can be purchased direct from the publisher at eMergent Publishing or from Amazon at Best of Friday Flash: Volume 2.  And for those who missed it, US Amazon still has Best Of Friday Flash - Volume One: A Collection Of Short Fiction.

Friday Flash attracts authors from the far reaches of the world.  To the best of my knowledge there are four other Canadian authors included in this anthology – check out their posts below!



Alan W. Davidson









Cathy Olliffe-Webster



T.S. Bazelli











Jen Brubacher (who lives in England but is definitely Canadian - in fact, Jen is a little jet-lagged and may not be able to post today but she's hoping)




Happy Birthday Mum!!!

It's my amazing mother's birthday today!   Woohoo!!!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to Mu-um
Happy birthday to you!

And what's Mum doing on her birthday?   Riding :)   hahaha and *that* is a statement I never thought I'd make.  And I'd just like to announce she entirely accomplished her goal of cantering before her birthday.  Woohoo!  Congrats :)

So I contemplated writing a slightly exaggerated but highly entertaining bio of some sort, but it really - that's hard to do since I only really know what's happened since my life story became my own and not just a continuation of hers.  The before is tricky when  you can't ask the primary participant questions without giving away the plans *g*

So instead I thought we'd review some of the things that've changed since the world has been blessed with her presence -- all entirely her doing of course.  And I was starting to have some fun with that, but really -- that's a book all in itself!  When the blog was getting WAY too long I aborted that idea entirely.   Then I thought maybe a birthday news post.  But it turns out most of the news sites that are archived online didn't post on whatever day of the week Oct 29 was that year *sigh*   Horrible fail.   I did find one that amused me though - want to know what happened the day Bev was born?  Check out 60yearsagotoday.com.  There's a website for everything :)

On a side note (because there were a LOT of side notes in this post :)  Entirely too ancient for the purposes of this post, but kept me entertained (ummm distracted) for entirely too long is Historic American Newspapers.  Very kewl site.  Discover history the way it was told at the time.  I have a book that's 100 years of NY Times -- super interesting for the same reason.   And as far as birthday gifts go -- http://www.historic-newspapers.co.uk/ is an interesting idea.  Sadly not one I thought Mum'd really like (more of a Dad type gift) but I still thought it was kinda kewl.   And closer to home: http://ink.ourontario.ca/ -- who knew Acton's had a paper since 1875???   hahaha

Anyways - next I decided, why invent the wheel?  Surely somebody's already done this for me :)   And sure enough...  hahaha the framing couch people aren't really worth watching, but the video being presented is somewhat amusing.



And on that note - happy birthday Mum!  And here's to the next 60 years!

Flash back

I had high hopes of writing a Friday Flash tonight -- the first in over a year!  *gasp* how sad.  But worse, it turns out the creative portion of my mind isn't functional tonight.  *sigh*   I did, however, have a ton of fun reading through old flashes I wrote ages ago that are little more than a flicker of a memory.  Which, in turn, killed whatever time I had left to write something new.  hahaha ah well.  Maybe next week >;-P

If anybody new to reading this wants to kill some time -- these ones brought back fun memories:

Last day on the job - http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2010/05/friday-flash-fiction-36-and-wag-last_06.html
A Sticky Note Life  - a short story in sticky notes   http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2010/08/fridayflash-47-sticky-note-life.html<
The Shadows of the Night (mythology) - http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2010/09/fridayflash-48-shadows-of-night.html
A Summer's Day (fantasy) - http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2010/05/fridayflash-37-summer-day_28.html<
The Photo Album (magic realism) - http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2010/10/fridayflash-54-photo-album.html
Just another day (crime fiction) - http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2009/10/flash-fiction-7-just-another-day.html
And if you liked that one, it has a sequel: http://laurencude.blogspot.ca/2010/06/fridayflash-39-just-another-day_10.html 

hahaha if you take the time to read any of em - let me know what you think!  Comments always welcome and appreciated :)

Had a lot of fun teaching yesterday and today -- now that my head is clear enough to think!  Ugh - I've been sick more this season than the last few years combined.  No fun at all!   My own lesson this am was just kinda silly.  Did nothing particularly productive, but had a lot of fun doing it *g*   By far the best lesson-related post of the week was Brena's: "Somehow the best lessons are the ones where you bounce around trying to hold someone else's whip, get your tack taken away, and end up sitting backwards on your pony..." hahaha so there is actually a reasonable explanation for all of this -- but that's no fun at all.   So I'm just going to say you had to be there. Or maybe you're a horse person who already *has* been there at some point and is now grinning away remembering...

Does playing the sport of kings make me a queen?

Polo... The sport of kings! Alas but I'm neither king nor queen and as such have never had the opportunity to play this fantastic sport. But then today, thanks to a wicked combination of Facebook and Groupon, I finally got that chance!

This story begins last summer -- Laura and I were discussing how much fun it'd be to try polo.   Sadly when I went home and researched, I decided it was prohibitively expensive and that dream was shelved.

Well a few months later a facebook acquaintance posted something asking if anybody was interested in a polo lesson -- I was one of several who responded positively.  And then nothing really came of it.  But a couple months after that, that same friend posted a link to GroupOn and tagged everybody who had expressed an interest in polo from her original post.  The link offered a variety of options -- but the one I liked was a semi-private polo lesson for $99.   Sweet.  Called Laura who was all for it and ordered the tickets.   Lesson had to be used by November.

But then show season hit.  And sailing.  And puppy class.  And general all-round insanity.  And we thought we had a good date but then Laura came off a young horse and was going to be off for six weeks *sigh*  So it got put on hold again.  But eventually we had a date that'd work for both of us and two sound riders.  Sweet.

And then, this morning, Laura's daughter was sick.  *sigh*  So being the good mom she is, she was out.  Too late at this point to reschedule as they polo guys require 48h for a make-up.  Which meant I was going regardless, but this kind of thing would be way more fun with a friend, so I put the word out.   I called my working students first but they were all working real jobs.  Imagine that >;-P    So then I called some of my riding friends -- most of them were busy too, but one was able to *very* quickly rearrange life to come play.  Woohoo!

So now polo...   Have you ever played golf?   How about ridden a dirt bike?  Played hockey?  How about all three at the same time?  Cause, well, that's pretty much polo.   hahaha - and have I mentioned I've never been successful at any of the above three sports?  Oh dear.

We started our polo lesson on the ground.  Definitely a wise move.  First step -- how to hold the mallet.  Stick your thumb through a loop, twist it around a few times, hook your hand between the loop and the mallet, and hang on.  Good to go.  Actually did make for a fairly secure hold.  From there we were introduced to each of the four swings.  Off-side fore, off-side back, near-side back, and near-side fore.  Ummm for the non-horse-people out there, off-side is right and near-side is left -- which in this circumstance seemed very backwards to me since the mallet is in the right hand and so the near-side is farthest away *g*  hahaha  Keep in mind, the mallet doesn't change hands -- so hitting the ball when it's on the near-side of the horse is a bit of a challenge.

So first one is hitting the ball forward when it's on the off-side (aka the right -- where the mallet is).  This one works pretty much as you'd expect -- the only challenge is that in the follow through you have to really make sure the mallet goes forward and doesn't arc around (ie golf).  Because if it arcs around, you'll hit your horse.  Boo on that.  Trickier was the second swing -- hitting the ball backwards when it's on the off-side.  Same general concept but with the theory that you've gone past the ball and are sending it the opposite direction.  I liked that one :)  Then the same two concepts on the near-side.  The forward one on the near side is all technique -- twisted at that angle, strength does very little good.  Jen got a good giggle at the fact that as soon as Janet (our awesome clinician) mentioned that one particular one was hard and not to expect to get it on the first day and isn't that the one I do best *g*.   Classic.  The easy ones otoh...  hahaha oh dear.

So we played that game for a while till we were deemed sufficiently well trained to get on a horse.

A wooden one.  hahaha seriously.  I so want one of these for the school.  When we were chatting earlier, Janet had mentioned she'd actually had people fall off said wooden horse -- this seemed really funny until I was leaning WAAAAAYYYYY off the side to hit a ball and suddenly realized *exactly* how one could end on the ground.  But I did manage to follow rule 1 on the wooden horse.

So we practiced swinging on the wooden horse a few times (poor Janet had to keep sending them back to us -- she could've used Sasha :) -- key details: the ground is a LOT farther away.  And don't hit the horse!

Got it.

Then way too early, time to get on a horse.  You've heard that before right?  Yeah but this time, it was a real live polo pony.   One just off the competitive season about to be turned out to gain pony fat.  One whose name I could hardly pronounce much less spell so...

First step - tack.  I was surprised the ponies weren't nearly as bubble-wrapped as I would've thought.  Polos (aptly named for once!) were the only leg protection (although in games they wear tendon boots and bell boots).  The bridle was a gag with double reins.  Martingale was the most intense I've ever seen -- leather was as thick as a usual stirrup leather.  But the fit was the same as I'd expect and all the tack was in good condition.  The breastplate had similarly intense straps, but again all well fitting and good to go.

The stirrup irons were also very thick -- at least double the traditional size.   My guess is to give you more security when you're leaning off the side!  No kneerolls on the saddle and I found the saddle balance tipped me very backward -- but when I was leaning off the side trying to hit the ball, I felt very secure, so my thought is they're balanced that way on purpose.  As with any riding sport -- trying to use the wrong saddle won't go well.  Jumping in dressage tack or dressaging in a jockey saddle are not impossible, but not easy either.   So while I felt off-balance at first in this one, it definitely worked for what we were doing :)

Stirrup length was between show-jump length and xc length.   You want your knee bent enough that you can move around, but enough leg to wrap around the horse and hang on!

And then the reins.  All four of them.   And unlike in a double bridle -- neither set is skinny.  Booo.  Even more unusual for me -- all four reins in one hand.  Fun :)  So Janet told us how to separate the reins and hold them all in one hand and reminded us that these horses neck rein and should be on essentially no contact.  Sweet.

Then the other difference -- steering is almost all rein aids.   My legs did very little to turn the horse and I will be forever grateful they don't respond to shifts in balance!   Can you imagine taking a top level dressage horse, one who'll swap leads at the slightest weight shift, and suddenly leaning so far off the side that you're parallel to the ground?  hahaha oh dear.  Can only imagine the reaction.   These ponies just held their line.  Very patient and very well trained.

Jen and I rode around for a bit hitting balls.  A couple challenges on a real horse -- the wooden one always faced forwards.  The live ones turn their heads!  Imagine that!  But how much does it suck when the horse turns to look at the mallet as you're swinging it!   Stopped just short of walloping my horse in the jowl.  Poor sainted pony :(   I would've been so upset.   But fortunately my swing really didn't have any strength behind it, so easy to stop it.  But that definitely made me even more hesitant as we were going.

Eventually though we were getting the hang of it and starting to read better how and where our horses would move and just generally getting more comfortable.   The ponies knew the game and would follow the ball after hitting it.  I thought that was pretty kewl.  Now you have to realize, both Jen and I are pretty type-A personalities.   I know, you're so surprised!  hahaha so of course as soon as we mastered (and by "mastered" I mean "were barely competent at") the basic skills we had to turn it into a game.   But we both acknowledged that chasing the *same* ball swinging mallets directly beside each other would probably not be a good idea for either us OR our sainted ponies, so we simply decided to race from one end of the arena to the other.  hahaha Jen won the first round and I won the second.  We were debating whether we should have a tie breaker when we ran out of time.   Probably for the best!

So yeah it was So. Much. Fun.  I haven't laughed that hard in ages.  I'm quite certain I'll be sore tomorrow, but totally worth it :)   I love any time I get to try something completely new (see the sailing posts :) but getting to do something completely new on horseback is a rarity for me and it was so very much fun.   And Janet was awesome; we were there quite a bit longer than we had actually paid for *g*   So the question for my GRS students is -- any interest in a clinic?   It's an hour - 1.5h away.  But so very entertaining!

Oh and as for the subject line -- the debate reigns re whether "the sport of kings" is polo or horse racing, but polo is the sport that actually counts multiple kings among its participants :)   So for the sake of my subject line, we're going with polo.

So what did you do today?

Wow today was...  An entertaining scheduling nightmare really...  hahaha

Ok so original plan:
- 10am off-site lesson
- 12:15 working student lesson
- 1 private
- 1:45 beginner private
- 2:45 assessment

All good right?

Next somebody called for a tour, interested in boarding.   Alright, get them to come right before w/s lesson at noon.

Then I had somebody coming who wants to be a w/s.  hmmm ok, well I can make it early from the off-site lesson, so she can ride at 11:30.  Np.

Then another assessment signed up, so without looking at my calendar I considered my usual Sunday schedule and put them at 3.  And an intermediate student wanted a private so I put her in at 4.

Ok does anybody else notice a 2:45 assessment and a 3:00 assessment?   Tricky.  Very tricky.   But I actually decided that with a little help from my awesome working student Brena, I could pull it off.   Just have her give a tour and fill out paperwork and at 3:15 they can ride the same horse as the first rider.  No worries.

Then through a whole variety of reasons, my off-site lesson changed from an hour to an hour and a half.  Very tricky as that now means I have to leave there at 11:30 and be at my barn at 11:30 -- with no time inbetween.  But I really like those people so...

Then my 1 and 1:45 (who come together) had to cancel due to illness, so I promptly rescheduled the 4 for 1 and the 3 for 2.  Woohoo!   And since I have such awesome students, they were all good with this.

Ok so now the only issue is getting from off-site to home with enough time to teach the new w/s AND give a tour at noon.  So I was *really* ok with it when Rebecca told me tentative w/s didn't show up.  hahaha classic eh?  No email or phone but, it saves me half an hour.   Which promptly put me back on schedule.

Sweet.  Then I get to the barn and check my messages and unfortunately potential boarder isn't well, so that'll be rescheduled as well.  And suddenly I'm at the barn *early* with time to relax between lessons.  Wow.

W/s lesson was fun as always and the 4 private which got bumped up to 1 went really well too.  The 2 lesson appeared just as I was finishing with 4 -- almost perfect timing.  When I finished with them no sign of the 2:45.   Open arena so I let Brena get in some extra riding (working student perk :) and found a message that they're half-hour late.  No problem.

They got there just as Brena finished.  Horse was warmed up and good to go for the new student.  And all was well with the world.

But from an easy day to an almost impossible day and back to a fairly simple day again, all within a few hours.  hahaha.  Just one of those days I guess :)

And my goal of being in bed by 10pm to catch up on some sleep?   Yeah - you can stop laughing now.  Sheesh.

Thanksgiving adventures :)

So Thanksgiving this year was so much fun :)

First off -- HUGE thanks to Kennedy, Katlyn, Rebecca, Brena and Amy who covered for me so I could disappear for a couple days!   Greatly appreciated :)

My thought was to feed and turnout the horses, get home and run some errands and leave around noonish.   Right.   Let's revisit that shall we?   By the time I was done at the barn (since it's never *just* feed and turnout -- esp when I'm going away for almost 3 days!).  So I got home around 11:30.  hmmmm oops.  Then both the second and third errand took significantly longer than anticipated.  They got done, just not quickly *sigh*.  And about that point as it was getting close to 3:30 I deemed the rest of the list could be ignored and hopped in the car.

Got there just in time for thanksgiving dinner!  Woohoo!  Soooo good :)

So the next day was pretty much just relaxing.  Soooo nice.  Spent most of the day on the couch with a book -- broken up with the occasional frisbee game with Sasha and riding a dirt bike for the first time -- but mostly relaxing.

What was that?  Oh the frisbee -- yeah, Sasha's favourite game.  She was so well behaved at the cottage.  Had a ton of fun playing with the boys :)  And remember her manners well enough that with a dozen people in a tiny cottage she wasn't a problem.  I was pretty happy with her.

Hmmmm?  Oh - the dirt bike.  Ummm yeah -- it doesn't interpret my aids quite as well as my horse does *g*  hahaha actually it was So. Much. Fun!  I had such a HUGE little-kid grin on my face :)   So it turns out, that when you crash a bike it's very much like when you crash your horse -- time slows down.  What's going through my head as I'm heading straight towards a tree on my first *ever* attempt on a bike is "if I fall with my legs out to the side like this, I'll break a leg".   Nothing useful like maybe - hit the breaks :)  *sigh*   Oh no, just how to fix it so that when I fall I won't get tooooo hurt.  Sheesh.   Fortunately while I couldn't for the life of me find the breaks, I *did* know where the clutch was.  hahaha AND had enough presence of mind to engage it so that said bike was instantly in neutral.  Didn't slow down very fast, but at least it stopped the accelleration *g*  Oh dear.   I *did* in-fact manage to get stopped a good 6" from the tree >;-P  hahaha but I think that was sheer beginner's luck.


The second try (yes there was a second try - you're not new here) - was significantly better.  hahaha and so very much fun.  Got going and didn't realize till after that my cousin was following along behind just in case I needed rescue :)   And just as I was debating a switch to second gear, I realized I was running out of driveway!  Booo.  So I stopped instead :(   So sad.  And it *almost* worked -- I aimed for neutral and promptly stalled it instead.  *sigh*  Ah well - I stopped where I intended to stop and under control, it just wasn't as graceful as I would've liked.  hahaha Daniel got the bike turned around and started again for me and I drove it back :)   This time I'd been warned about neutral being a challenge and just went for off when I got there.  But omg so much fun.  Grinning just remembering it now.


So yeah - something entertaining always happens at Thanksgiving :)   The rest of the weekend was a pretty traditional cottage weekend and as always, I really enjoyed it.  Hope yours was as much fun!

I miss summer :(

Today is the first day of fall.  I'm blaming that for everything that happened today.  You see, I am a summer child.  I *love* summer.  I was born in the summer.  I love the heat.  I love the sunshine.  I love the long days and the hot nights.  I love everything to do with being in, on or around the water.  My job gets easier, more fun, and I have more time in which to do it.  We get to play XC.  Basically everything about summer is good.  And this summer was amazing.  I had tons of fun showing Athena, who got better every time out, and I had a great group of girls competing and had an awesome time with them.

Of course, the flip side is also true -- I *despise* winter with a passion.   And today was the first day of fall. The bringer of winter.  I should've stayed in bed.

Which I very nearly did.  Hit snooze a few times too many and ended up rolling out of bed at 6:10 -- I meant to leave the house at 6.   Oops.   Then I realized I neglected to fill up the gas the night before.  Detour 1.  And by this point I was so late I decided I needed Timmies too.  Detour 2.

But eventually I made it to the barn, and it turns out I am *very* efficient at show-morning prep.  Mostly based off the fact that I have always hated mornings and therefore sleeping till the very last second has been a great motivator.  So I was, in fact, ready to go less than 10 min after the planned time.  And Athena loaded like a saint!  Best yet.   Hesitated slightly and then just strolled on.  Sweet.

So we were off.  And passed through some random time-warp that got us there in record time.  I had an hour before I had to get on for dressage, so I left Athena with Chelsea (who has, after today, been totally promoted to Supergroom.  She was *awesome*.) and went to get my package and walk xc.  Completely forgetting my passport *sigh*  Can you tell it's been a while?  But they gave it to me anyways with my promise to deliver said passport later.

Head out to XC.  Now the night before a friend had texted me the course, so I was a little concerned.  I texted my coach who returned with the short-hand virtual course walk that made me feel a little better.  And as I started to walk it, I wondered what my concern had been.  Fences one and two were super inviting.  Three would require a bit of a ride, but it was really small -- she could easily trot it if we had to.  So no problem.  4-5 would be a *very* challenging bending line for her; until I realized we could angle 4 slightly and jump them on a straight line which she could do reasonably well.  6 was a random house.  Np.  Then the map showed cross the treeline, turn left, and jump the half-coffin.  So I crossed the tree-line, turned left, and found nothing...  Backtracked and walked straight farther -- found an Intermediate ski jump that ran the other way and figured I was misplaced.   Now at the treeline there were two options to go "straight".   It looked like the one on the right connected back at the bottom of the hill.   So, walking backwards and figuring this was the only option left, I decided to take the connecting path and see if the jump was in there.

Short story - it wasn't.  You can skip a few paragraphs now if you want to know about the *riding* portion of today's activities.   Still with me?  So I pretty quickly ascertained that this was *not* the correct route, but it looked like it'd reconnect back at the top of the hill so I followed it.   It didn't.  So I turned around and went back...   And here things get a little fuzzy...   Somewhere, lost in the woods, I made a very wrong turn. Not sure exactly how, but I was clearly not making it back to the xc course.  And I was turned around enough I didn't even know which way the course WAS.  :(   And pretty soon it was very clear I wasn't even on the property!  By this point I'd turned around so many times it seemed turning back would just get me more lost and I stumbled upon a wider, groomed and signed path.  Clearly for snowmobilers and not likely part of the xc course -- but I had hopes it'd go somewhere civilized so I followed it for a while.  By this point I realize I have less than 20 min till I had planned to get on and absolutely NO idea where I was or how to get out.  Less than fun, let me tell you.  And I'm on foot.  And I didn't have my cell phone with me.  And Sasha had no brilliant ideas, but thought this was a really great game :)   So I followed the nicely signed big path for a while and could see a clearing.  Doing most of this at a jog now in an effort to save time. My little brain equated clearing with "xc field" -- or at very least "open field" which'd mean farm of some sort and therefore people.   Yeah.  First day of fall, remember?  The open field was a hydro line path.  Oh dear.   I definitely hadn't crossed a hydro line before so now I knew for a fact I was going the wrong way -- BUT had no idea how to get back where I started, so figured I'd continue.  And then my nice big path disappeared.  Seriously.  But there was a little path that went straight up the hill to a place that looked like it had a good view.   Ok, climb hill and look around.   Straight down the hill a little ways away, I could see a silo.  No idea how far it *actually* would be from there -- distance is deceptive at that point.  But I'd much rather be lost on a road with buildings and, conceivably people, then in the woods wandering aimlessly.

So there's a scrawny little path leading straight down the hill (and these are not small hills!) which Sasha and I mostly slid down...  And a road!  Woohoo!   A dead-end road -- but I had hopes it would lead to another one.  Preferably the one Glen Oro is on!  Oh - and I have 10 mins till I'm supposed to be on my horse.   I see a driveway - sweet!  Nope, it's a construction pit.  Oh dear.  Keep walking and in the distance there's a nicely manicured lawn.  Look and house appears to be absolutely deserted.  But look closer and there's a guy chopping wood by a barn at the back.  I think that's the most happy I've been to see anybody in a very long time.  So I interrupted his work as politely as I could and explained the situation and how lost I was and asked if he could point me in the right direction.  As soon as I mentioned the horse show it was very clear he knew exactly where I was supposed to be, but... "that's the next concession over.  If you give me 10 mins to finish this, I can run you over."

Now there's a life choice for you.  How many times do you get told growing up never to get in a car with a stranger?  But, otoh, I approached him.  And I had *no* idea where I was.  So really, if he were a bad guy - I'd already walked right into his home base.  And if not, then he could really help.  hahaha so I accepted the ride with great thanks.   As we pulled out the driveway, we met his wife (or that's the impression I got anyways) pulling in so he stopped to tell her where we were going, and she offered to take me instead which I thought was super cool of her, but Sasha was with me and def wouldn't've fit in her little car...  But OMG we were SO far away.  That road connected to Horseshoe Valley Rd, which *then* connected to the street GO is on.  It would've taken me a solid hour, probably longer, to walk that.  As it is -- I was pushing it really tight for dressage by this point, but I still thought I might make it.  Profuse thanks to awesome farmer dude and book it back to the trailer where supergroom Chelsea, completely unaware of my drama but very aware of the time, already had Athena tacked up for me.  Just had to get dressed and go.  Trotted our way to warm-up and got tack check and then exhaled.  hahaha we made it.  And even had time to warm up.  And Athena was being *amazing*.

Went in the ring and she continued to be amazing.  Wow.  That test was significantly harder than what she's done this year, although I admit I schooled both the pieces AND the full test at home all week, so she did have some idea what was going on.   She was brilliant.  I wasn't convinced she'd be competitive for training level, but compared to every test she's ever done, this was was awesome.  So I was pretty excited about that.
In dressage

So.  Then it was time to walk XC.  This time I brought a friend!  The first 6 fences seemed still just as nice as the first time around.  And we went to the forest and *still* couldn't find it.  And this time I was getting *really* frustrated about it.  And again, we only had about an hour so not a ton of time to fuss around being lost.  Got smarter this time though - knowing all the *wrong* routes and also knowing where fence 9 was, we went there and worked backwards.  8 I also knew as they were the steps down.  And then I wondered if 7 wasn't really in the woods at all -- pt 7 was in the field beside the woods.  So figured I'd walk back there and see.  And as I did, I discovered it!  Yes in the woods, but not a straight line through the way the map showed...  A swerve and basically a little loop next to the treeline.  So this one was a half-coffin.  Nice little log, one stride downhill to the ditch.  The ditch was def home to at least a few horse-eating monsters -- of the deep and not particularly inviting type -- but my plan was to trot the log so A'd have time to process and I thought we'd be ok.  She looks at ditches, but is pretty sainted about them.  Then back to 8 - two steps down.  She hasn't done that before but we've done a ton of banks so I wasn't terribly concerned about it.  My plan was a super-slow approach, step down off the first and continue.  9 was just a random fence.  10 was a bank into water, but with the water shortage you could actually land on sand for one stride.  Sweet.  11 a small skinny after the water.  12 was a corner - which worried me on the map as GO used to have a *huge* maxed T corner (remember it with Zel) - but this was a tiny and inviting one.  The tree next to it would be more of a challenge :)  Sweet.  Then we have more water, but again can land on solid ground.  The bank up was reasonably substantial, so I gave it a fair amount of respect, and one stride to some logs.  Then a nice run and a little pile of logs in the tree-line.  Bending line to a substantial trakhener.  I figured it'd be ok though (kinda like the one she did at Will O Wind -- the ditch was more dug out, but not as wide) - the only issue really was that the footing was boggy right before it and A *really* dislikes soft footing.  Then a coffin that was about as friendly as coffin's get.  Main issue there is by this point she'd be tired...  And then just one little log fence to the finish.

So at this point I was pretty excited -- I really like technical courses and as a schooling upgrade it'd be prefect because it had some of everything but nothing too massive or scary.  Woohoo!  Went to check stadium quickly and it was open to walk, so did that.  It was maxed.  Seriously maxed.  And any fence that would be a "gimmie" in a normal course had some sort of optical illusion to it for all sorts of fun and games.  And the footing was slick.  Striding was text-book perfect and nothing complicated in the turns.  It was just size and appearance.

At this point I would've liked to have been warming up already, so booked it back to the pony -- who Chelsea already had tacked up (didn't I say she was awesome!) and trotted back to warmup.  She warmed up *beautifully*.  I was thrilled.  Jumping positively and in front of my leg and just feeling good.
Stadium w/u

And then it started to rain.  Is anybody surprised by this?   And we went in the ring.   She was really backed off the first fence which surprised me a little as it was very inviting (or so I thought - I later discovered there were a lot of stops there) but she jumped it well.  Fences 2-3 rode really well (in the right number of strides!) but she was feeling a little hesitant off the ground.  Not looking at things, but just not flowing well.  Fence four -- even watching it on video I'm not exactly sure what happened.  I do know that I got more air time than is legal without a pilot's license.  It looks like she changed her mind and put her front feet down for an extra mini-stride and then took off again straight up.  Got my balance back and 5 rode really well.  I thought she'd look at it as she was *very* backed off a similar fence earlier this year and hasn't seen anything like it since.  But she flew over it -- prob the best fence of the day.  6 though we came in too flat and she got deep and cat-leaped it.  Cleared it -- evidently this height isn't a challenge for her either.  In fact when it went well, she felt WAY better over the bigger fences.  The issue is, when it *didn't* go well...  And I very nearly landed without her on that one.  Again, serious air time -- but this time we didn't land as well.  *sigh*  At least I knew *why* that one was bad.  7 was a triple-bar of decent size that she flew over beautifully.  We weren't as balanced on the turn to 8 as I would've liked, but we managed it.  However, that flowed through in that we missed the turn to 9.  *sigh*  I did manage to get her there and she *started* to take off...  And then her hind legs slid :(   Boo on that.   We demolished the fence - right through it.  Pause to rebuild and then try again.

And she did it the second time.  Serious hesitation though, I could feel she'd had enough of this game.  And the rational side of my brain said "retire."  *sigh*  I have to learn to listen to the rational side of my brain.  It doesn't appear often in competition, but it's almost always right.  Sadly the competitive side of my brain which said "there's only one line left" won out and we approached the last combination.  She propped and spun out and I landed on my feet next to her, still holding the reins.  *sigh*   I don't blame her being scared and unconfident after the way the course was going -- and that line had some tricks to it.  Perfect distances but optical illusions with the poles.  That dirty bastard Hindsight is kicking me for not stopping when the thought entered my brain.  Because really, if any portion of the rider isn't convinced they should keep going, why would the horse?  That's the first round since I was a kid where things got worse as we went.  I'm pretty disappointed in myself for that :(

So I did remount of course and we jumped a few fences in the warm-up area again.  She was still super hesitant and sticky *sigh*  I didn't even try the oxer that she'd been so brave over earlier.   Jumped a few low ones where she felt good and called it a day.   They *did* say we could still go xc (the attrition rate in stadium was rather atrocious so I guess they were letting people school if they wanted to) but I felt that would not be a positive experience and was certainly not about to make the same mistake twice.   The rational brain may not have won out in the three strides I had to make a decision in stadium, but it certainly did in the time between stad and xc!
I wish this weren't fuzzy - she flew over it!
On the plus side -- I was super proud of and impressed by miss Chelsea!  Who took complete care of my pony all day and did an amazing job of it -- as well as doubling as puppy sitter and videographer!   And, tbh, it was a great social day.  I got to chat with a bunch of friends I don't see very often and some of the other riders that I know but rarely have time to talk to.  That part was actually a lot of fun.  Was parked next to a friend riding after me in competition -- I miss that part of competing; the last few years I've always been out on my own -- which is awesome, but I hadn't realized how much of  a difference it makes.  On both sides of the cheering on when things are going well and commiseration when things don't go as well as planned.  Not to mention the always fun gallows humour about the course :)  And just having somebody to walk the course with and bounce ideas off of.  Social outtings are always good :)

So now I know our homework for the winter.  Fix what I broke and improve it to the unbreakable point!  No problem :)  For all today was brutal, I was still so proud of my little mare and how very far she's come.  And next year no fall shows.

What do you want in life?


I've never been a big fan of these, but this one caught my attention.  The first time I looked it said: Time, Money, Fun -- pretty accurate I'd say :)

The second time I looked it said: Love, Time, Happiness -- I'm noticing a common trend here...  And with enough of the first I might be able to achieve the second :)

Have to wonder though if the brain really does seek words that are important to it, or if it's just the placement of them on the page.  I know when we were studying UI there was a lot of discussion done about studies that show where the eyes instinctively look first on a screen; same thing could well be at work here too.  But always fun to read something into nothing right?

Had a fairly entertaining and reasonably effective lesson today.  Some reasonable flat work followed by grown-up sized jumps.  Which Athena flew over like a pro-star.  Not even close to the highest I've jumped her, but arguably the *biggest* given the spread.  And jumping with text-book style.  If we can keep that together for Sat, we'll have a lot of fun!

Be careful what you study...

So somebody sent me this photo:


Which was just so horrible I had to post it.

Then it reminded me of the saying I had up on the wall next to my machine in uni:

Knowledge is power.
Power corrupts.
Corruption is a crime.
Crime doesn't pay.
So quit studying or you'll go broke.

It always made me laugh and justified more than one study break.  Except now I'm thoroughly educated - and broke.  hmmmm somehow less amusing.

So that got me thinking about the other ones I had up in uni...  There was the "expect perfection, tolerate excellence" -- given that Jen got on me about that after my dressage test the other day "it wasn't *that* bad" while I'm saying the expectation is a lot higher.  *g*  Have to say that one's fairly ingrained by now.  For better or for worse :)

There was "what would the child you once were think of the adult you are now?"   Ummm let's see - plays with horses for a living and gets to bring her puppy dog to work.  Pretty much every horse-crazy girl's dream.  Check.

Then of course there's the one that passed university and went on to be stuck on my blog:  "Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated.  You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."  Story. of. my. life.

And the only other one I really remember was "if not now, when?" -- which I still ask myself any time I catch myself saying "well someday..."

Not sure there's really any point to this except that it sort of interested me.  Is it a case of what was drilled into my subconscious after years of reading the same thing day after day came to be part of my life?  (For better or for worse!  Maybe I need to stick "win the lottery" on a sticky next to the computer!).   Or, more likely, is it as simple as they meant something to me at a time when I was evolving as a person (theoretically! >;-P) and it makes sense that they still would?   The only one that makes me question that is the first.  That one's a little spooky.  Because it was about as far from inspirational as it gets and it still came true!  Sheesh.

Been lots of studies done on the first - right up there with training your thoughts and using visualization to improve.  And the second is just common sense.  But when it happens without any conscious thought...  A little creepy.  I guess that's how you end up with effective marketing!  hahaha oh dear.